MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Dawn Plitzuweit’s crew continued its recent hot streak Saturday, as it secured its fourth win in the last five games by defeating Texas Tech. The Mountaineers used a momentum swing in the latter stages of the third quarter to quell a Red Raider comeback and halt a second-straight second-half letdown.
JJ Quinerly tallied a 16-point, 10-rebound double-double, and Jayla Hemingway recorded her second double-double of the week with 18 points and 10 boards. They did so in front of the second-largest home crowd this season, and with more than 20 of the program’s former players in attendance.
“Really, really fun to see those women, and how they have so much excitement and pride in the Mountaineers,” said Plitzuweit, WVU’s first-year head coach. “It’s just really cool to see all of them out there, and be able to spend the pre-game and kind of the post-game with them.”
Among the alumni in attendance were 1,000-point scorer Averee Fields, and the great Georgeann Wells — the first player in women’s college basketball history to record a dunk.
The alumni players didn’t just appear at Saturday’s game. According to Plitzuweit, around eight of them were at Friday’s practice to introduce themselves, and tell their favorite stories from their playing days.
“They’re wonderful, they’re so funny,” Quinerly said. “It’s great just having them here and seeing and actually learning what they had to go through.”
With the era that the former players on-hand played in ranging greatly, the stories and their experiences varied, as well.
“If you could’ve seen the faces of our players when they were listening to these stories, because they’ve probably lived part of it, or they’re so shocked by it, like ‘You had to push a bus? What are you talking about? That is crazy.’ I think there were quite a few that made our players laugh, and that was really, really neat to be a part of that,” said Plitzuweit.
Hold on. A bus? What’s that about?
“They said they had to push a bus up a hill before a game in the snow,” said Quinerly, still scratching her head as to how (and possibly why) that happened.
That was just one of the many stories that stuck out from the two days the former Mountaineer players were around this current group of Mountaineers. After watching WVU take down the Red Raiders, many of them headed to the locker room for some parting thoughts and celebrations.
“To have them in the locker room after the game was something that was pretty special,” added the head coach. “I kind of laughed at Georgeann trying to give everyone high-fives, and Kylee (Blacksten) missed her, and she was like ‘Kylee get over here.’ And she gave her a low-five. I think it’s really neat that we had so many alumni come back.”
In some respects, Saturday’s celebration begins the build-up to next season, when West Virginia University will celebrate 50 seasons of women’s basketball. Plitzuweit and her group of players are a part of the program’s history, as are the 20-plus alumni players who visited with them.
This weekend also provided perspective on the strides the sport has made since those players were suiting up.
“It’s just crazy how like, everything just changed from the facility to us traveling,” said Quinerly. “It’s just crazy how everything changed.”